Tackling Hardship: Nicole Stellon O’Donnell

Nicole Stellon-O'DonnellThe longest car ride I can remember was the 15 minutes it took me to drive Julie and our newborn son Evan home from the hospital. It was an afternoon in late October, and small flakes of snow descended in the dimming light. Every flake seemed a potential threat, diminishing my vision or compromising the road. Admittedly, I was a little wound up; all I could think about was getting them home safely.

I share that story because my guest today is poet and essayist Nicole Stellon O’Donnell. She and her husband TJ faced an experience every parent dreads, suddenly discovering their child has a potentially life-threatening disease. Today, on Northern Soundings she talks about that and about her award winning collection of poems Steam Laundry which examines the lives of historical figure struggling to live during the Yukon and Fairbanks gold stampedes.

Nicole and I attended the graduate writing program at University of Alaska Fairbanks, and I remember vividly an essay of hers KUAC broadcast about freezing blueberries. Her voice, both on the page and in her delivery, was distinctive, vivid and wry.

That was more than a decade ago. Lately, Nicole has been writing about teaching, and I started our discussion by asking if teaching had always been a goal.

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